From today's show:
By Jeff Walsh
As one of the fab five on Queer Eye, Jai Rodriguez always seemed to capture my attention. Sure, he's gorgeous. But, there always seemed to be something more to his role on the show. While all the other guys performed their roles admirably, Jai always seemed to go for making deep, meaningful connections with the people they were helping on the show and most often connecting their personal story to his function, whereas the others were making kitchen klutzes try to bake and down-scale dressers add more pizzazz.
Since the show ended, he's been seen on Nip/Tuck, and this year will show up in two different reality series, America's Prom Queen for ABC Family and Groomer Has It for Animal Planet, which Jai describes on his MySpace as "Project Runway for dog groomers."
Aside from that, Rodriguez has been putting the finishing touches on his debut album, the first single from which "Broken," you can listen to on his MySpace. He also worked the boards as Angel in Broadway's Rent.
I spoke with him quite a while back, as he was on a train this summer headed to his high school reunion, but finally decided to post the damned thing already. Here's what we said way back when I was significantly younger about Queer Eye, breaking into music, Rent, and coming out:
Ten years after Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard was brutally murdered because of his sexual orientation, a 15-year-old gay California student is dead after a student allegedly shot him because of his sexual orientation and gender expression. He had previously been on life support, although brain dead.
Lawrence King, an eighth-grader at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard, was being kept alive today for organ donation after being shot Tuesday morning in class. The 14-year-old attacker, among a group of students known to bully and harass King because he sometimes wore makeup and jewelry and told classmates he was gay, will be charged with murder and a hate crime.
By Jeff Walsh
Mika stormed through San Francisco again on Tuesday night, toward the tail end of his ongoing tour supporting his amazing first album, "Life in Cartoon Motion." This was his second time in our fair city, and I was also at his first go-round at The Fillmore back in June.
As you would expect, the show was completely sold out and, as you'd also expect, the set list included his entire debut album, as well as a few new songs and his seemingly obligatory Eurythmics cover. Last time he was here, he played Sweet Dream (Are Made of This), but we got "Missionary Man" this time around.
By Jeff Walsh
For anyone living near or visiting San Francisco in the near future, there is an amazing new musical called "Insignificant Others" that is not to be missed. The show is a romantic comedy about five friends who move to San Francisco from the Midwest and learn the value of friendship.
The show is a decidedly San Francisco musical, so much so that it is about to begin what should be a long-standing run on Pier 39 at Fisherman's Wharf, which is tourist central. The show has many gay elements, but if you're coming to town with a mixed group, it's by no means a "gay show," so you can certainly get it in under the radar if you're closeted.
By Jeff Walsh
Xanadu, the new Broadway musical based on the old train wreck of a 1980s Olivia Newton John movie, is hard to pin down. It's definitely a campy, amusing time at the theater. It has an excellent cast and staging. And it calls to mind other jukebox musicals like Mamma Mia, Footloose, Saturday Night Fever, only it never really lives up to all you hope it might be.
To be fair, the entire premise didn't leave writer Douglas Carter Beane all that much to work with. Sonny spends his time drawing chalk murals on Venice Beach sidewalks. He draws a picture of Greek muses, which comes to life, and the Greek goddess Clio becomes his muse and inspires him to follow his dream, which is to open a roller disco. That's pretty much it, as well as a score by the Electric Light Orchestra.
The show doesn't put on any airs, though. It is completely aware of its frivolity, one character even refers to the show onstage as "This is like children's theater for 40-year-old gay people!"
By Jeff Walsh
Todd Herzog wanted to go on Survivor since he was an overweight 15-year-old in Utah. When he finally turned 21, the now-skinny gay Mormon flight attendant almost made it on the show two seasons ago, but was turned away because the producers felt that he looked too much like hunky Asian hottie Brad Virata?!? But, this time around, Todd made it to Survivor: China, where he made no secret about the fact that he was playing the game and playing to win.
Last night, he took home the million-dollar prize. Possibly the youngest winner of the show, and the first gay winner since daddybear Richard Hatch on the first season, Todd actually founded a Survivor club when he was in high school. He was even voted "most likely to appear on Survivor." So, this wasn't just a passing fancy for him. Online, he has his detractors, to put it mildly. He made no bones about the fact that he would lie and manipulate people to win (but if you don't, you don't win.).
Todd called us up himself Monday after waking up from an afternoon catnap in his apartment in Utah. Well, OK, actually CBS publicity called us and Todd (who was now in New York City, and had yet to sleep from winning the show 17 hours earlier in Los Angeles) spoke to us while still buzzing on the frenzy of the finale, after hours of endless interviews. Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
Pratibha Parmar is the writer, producer, and director the lesbian romantic comedy "Nina's Heavenly Delights," a fun story about food, family, and culture that opens in San Francisco this week and in other major U.S. cities throughout the year. Parmar was in San Francisco this week to promote the movie, as well as work on her next project involving The Color Purple author Alice Walker, so we had a chance to sit down in a café near the Bay Bridge for a chat the other day. We talked about the film, being vegan (she told me "there are meat dishes in the film just to appeal to a broad audience"), the Color Purple, and gay marriage. My review of her movie is here; the interview went as follows:
By Jeff Walsh
Nina's Heavenly Delights is a Scottish Asian story about an Indian cooking competition, but the universal themes will satisfy the most discerning film lover's palette.
Over the opening credits, we see a very young Nina and her father cooking together, and witness the passion he brings to cooking. The movie begins as Nina returns home to Glasgow upon learning of her father's death. Her childhood friend Bobbi, who dreams of performing in drag in a Bollywood movie, picks her up at the airport.
Nina Shah moved to London after some family altercation, and there is obvious tension between her and the family she left behind. The Shahs have an award-winning Indian restaurant called The New Taj, of which a young woman named Lisa now owns half after Nina's father had lost half of the business as part of a bet.
As the story moves on, we find out that every member of the Shah family has a secret involving a hidden love, and each of them keep it hidden because of family obligation.
By Jeff Walsh
"Kurt Cobain: About A Son" (now playing in select theaters) is sort of an oral autobiography played over a Pacific Northwest travelogue. While Kurt narrates his growing up, interest in music, and reaction to fame, we see scenes of the cities he talks about. It is definitely an interesting presentation, in that there is no title up front mentioning Cobain, barely any photos of him during the entire film, save for some live concerts where he's hard to make out, and only a handful of portraits at the very end. Theater-hoppers who show up to this movie late won't know what the hell's going on, with a disembodied voice talking about growing up, while visuals of a lumber yard and other assorted segments show underneath.
I'll come right out and state upfront that I am a huge Nirvana fan. I heard Nevermind when it debuted on the local college radio station, rushed out to buy it the next day, and bought the only copy the store had in stock, a month or so before it would start getting airplay. I got to see them live two nights in one week on their In Utero tour, the week before they recorded their famous Unplugged set. I even have a Kurt Cobain "action figure" on my Amazon wishlist. So, when I heard this movie was edited from more than 25 hours of audio interviews Cobain did with Michael Azerrad for his book "Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana," I was more interested in when an audiobook of those interviews would be made available than in the 90-minute movie.
By Jeff Walsh
"Glue" sort of defies every pigeonhole you try and put it into, yet still leads to a rewarding experience. It probably helped that I had no clue what I was putting on, just popped the DVD in and hit play.
The characters fill in pretty quick right from the start. The lead is Lucas, a gangly but cute boy who listens to the Violent Femmes and sings in a band with his hot, hunky friend, Nacho on drums. At this point, my mind starts to assemble what lies ahead... OK, here we go, Lucas is gay, and has a crush on Nacho... but then we meet Andrea, a mousy girl that wears glasses. I try and fit her into my mental version of the movie, that she's sort of Lucas's fag hag, or that she and Lucas both fancy some Nacho, but then why does it seem that Lucas is flirting, too? Who likes who in this thing?
Eventually, I gave up trying to predict things and let the actual movie happen, which is a good thing because the focus and clarity I kept trying to force on the movie never happened. As much as I prattle on about not labeling your sexuality, it was sort of interesting to see it in effect. Lucas and Nacho had a definite physicality between them, at times it seemed homoerotic, other times just familiar. By the movie's end there are a lot of lines and labels crossed, but it's a satisfying journey.
By Jeff Walsh
Naked Boys Singing is coming out on DVD just in time for the holidays, so if you weren't aware you still have time to adjust your gift lists. Alternatively, it makes for a good item to put on your own list if you want that extra shove to make your Mom ask you directly.
Now, I just reviewed this movie back in September, so little has changed since that time. The bulk of the review is there.
However, the DVD also includes a documentary on the making of the movie that plays almost as long as the movie itself. It was actually an interesting watch, just to see the insanity they put themselves through to make it. You learn that the movie was shot in less than four days, that some cast members didn't know they planned to film in front of a live audience, and also cast members freaking out about doing the nudity (which you'd never suspect from seeing the finished product).
By Jeff Walsh
Alan Cumming does it all well: actor, screenwriter, director, novelist, singer... hell, he even has his own fragrance. I got the chance to sit down with Cumming (that's my hand on his shoulder) when he was in town for the showing of Suffering Man's Charity at the San Francisco gay film festival back in June.
As these things often work, the interview is done in the afternoon on the day the movie is screening, so you basically interview him about a movie you haven't seen, and then once you see it, he's out of town. I was holding the interview to time it with the long-passed DVD release of "Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World," which never seems to show up in my mailbox. So, I figure, we'll just run the interview on Thanksgiving, since Alan is someone for whom the community is thankful.
In Rick & Steve, Cumming plays the elderly, HIV-positive Chuck, who adds a lot of un-PC color to the amazingly funny proceedings. Back when I reviewed that, a few of you did the math regarding his four-year relationship with his 19-year-old boyfriend, and were rightfully appalled. Hopefully LOGO goes for another season of Rick & Steve, which is just amazing work from queer cinema wunderkind Q. Allan Brocka.
Of course, like a true theater queen, I start the interview with the Cumming that I know best, the one who injected an amazing amount of fresh energy into Cabaret for its restaging on Broadway a decade ago. His Tony-winning role as the emcee ratcheted up the role's sex appeal and the good news (possibly an Oasis exclusive?) ... he might be hitting the boards again for the show's anniversary:
Nathan and Maggie have many things in common: they are both in their 20s, they both have boyfriends, and they both have a weird, complex love for one another.
Nathan is a writer who gets an assignment to write a travel article about Napa Valley and its romantic hot spots. He invites Maggie to go with him.
On the way, the two stop to visit Maggie's best friend and ex-boyfriend. While Maggie is inside making dinner with her friend, Nathan is outside making "friends" with her ex.
After catching up with old friends and making some new ones, the two continue on their travels. Maggie tries to reconnect and get closer to Nathan, but he seems to keep her at a distance.
By Jeff Walsh
Live in Cartoon Motion is a perfect document of Mika's quick rise to fame. In a world of YouTube celebrities, gossip playing a bigger role than talent, and further examples of ADD culture, Mika actually made his name with infectious tunes, a fun live show, and of course, playing the "is he or isn't he?" game with the gay press. (I think the prancing around onstage and sheer bombast of his songs answers the question.)
The DVD features a live concert taped in Paris, an hour-long documentary as Mika travels through Europe, all of the music videos off his first album, and three songs performed acoustic. Seeing that he only has one album to his credit, the Paris show is pretty similar to the show I saw in San Francisco, building up to "Grace Kelly" and closing with the naughty-sounding bubblegum pop of "Lollipop." The concert is almost as much fun on DVD as it was in person. He really throws himself into the songs and projects such amazing, fun energy onstage.
Seeing as Mika was sick and having throat problems while they were filming the documentary, presumably for the Paris show, and when I saw him in San Francisco, it really makes me wonder how good his concert would be if he were feeling well. If this is him on a bad day, it certainly makes you wonder.